Mahmoud Abbas also warned the Hamas-led government that it had little choice but to negotiate with Israel, in an interview with CNN-Turk aired on Monday.

 

"The constitution gives me clear and definite authority to remove a government from power, but I don't want to use this authority," Abbas said in the interview that was recorded before he arrived in Turkey on Sunday.

 

"Everyone should know that by law this power is in my hands."

 

Hamas rebuke

 

Asked about the possibility of Abbas bringing down the Palestinian government, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank said the group would "not leave in silence" and threatened to stop recognising a year-old truce with Israel.

 

"We will go, but we will not recognise the Palestinian political regime. We will not participate in any new election and we will go underground as we did before and we will not adhere to any commitments, any truce, by anyone," said the official, asking to remain anonymous.

 

"The constitution gives me clear and definite authority to remove a government from power, but I don't want to use this authority"

Mahmoud Abbas

A spokesman for the Hamas-led government, Ghazi Hamad, added that Abbas should not have made such a statement at an early point in the tenure of the new government.

 

"We expect from President Abbas to protect his government and not to make such declarations," Hamad said in an interview from Gaza City.

 

Threat

 

Aides to Abbas said that his comments were meant as a warning to Khaled Mishaal, the top Hamas leader who criticised the Palestinian president last week, and that Abbas doesn't plan on dissolving the government anytime soon.

 

Mishaal effectively accused Abbas of plotting against Hamas when the Palestinian president vetoed the appointment of a new security force by the new government.

 

He will do so only if the economic situation in the territories becomes "catastrophic," they said.

 

"We expect from President Abbas to protect his government and not to make such declarations"

Ghazi Hamas,
spokesman for Hamas government

If Abbas were to dissolve the government, he would ask someone else to try to form a new cabinet, which would need the approval of the Hamas-controlled legislature.

 

If a stalemate emerged, Abbas has the authority to order new elections.

 

Israel

 

In the interview, Abbas also said that Hamas had to negotiate with Israel or the Palestinian people would be left to starve.

 

The United States and European Union cut funding because of the group’s refusal to recognise Israel or renounce violence.

 

"Hamas has to face the facts and establish communication with Israel," Abbas said.

 

Khaled Mishaal (R) accused Abbas
of trying to sabotage the goverment

"I'm worried that the situation will turn into a tragedy in the near future. A short time later we could be up against a great hunger disaster in Palestine.

 

"Without help we can't stand on our feet long," he added.

 

Cash-strapped

 

Abbas was in Turkey as part of a tour that is to take him to Norway, Finland and France where he will discuss stalled talks for Middle East peace and aid to his cash-strapped people.

 

Abbas said that he would work for a solution with or without Hamas.

 

"Hamas can support me or not. When I find a way to a solution with Israel, I'll present this to the Palestinian people in a referendum. The Palestinian people are above Hamas and other politicians," he said.

 

Earlier this month, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, criticised the EU for cutting off direct financial support to the Palestinian government and said abandoning the policy would contribute to Middle East peace.

 

Abbas is scheduled to meet with Erdogan on Tuesday.

 

Hamas, which won the January, 25 Palestinian legislative elections, is on the EU and US list of terrorist organisations.